BANGKOK - At a hip Bangkok diner, foodies with an adventurous palate tuck into a bug-based menu that includes watermelon salad sprinkled in bamboo worms, nachos with silkworm cherry tomato salsa and pasta made from ground crickets.
Abundant and stacked with protein, insects have long been a favourite snack among Thai farmers. But they have often carried a negative image, perceived as "food for the poor" in a country with profound class divides.
Now bugs are creeping onto the menu of some of Bangkok's high-end restaurants as the capital's gourmands leap on the latest global food trend with a sustainable agenda.
Ratta Bussakornnun, a 27-year-old who works in the cosmetics industry, admitted she was initially sceptical as she sat for a meal recently at Insects in the Backyard, which says it offers Bangkok's first insect-themed fine-dining menu.
Many wealthier Thais, she said, think of insects as "unappetising and dirty".
But by the end of her meal she was won over.
"I just ate scallops topped with bamboo worms and a fish fillet with an ant egg sauce. It was delicious," she beamed, a gentle jazz track playing overhead in the dimly lit restaurant.
"The food is well presented," she added. "This gives an impression of sophistication."
The restaurant is located in Chang Chui -- an arty district in western Bangkok filled with vinyl record stores and local fashion designers.
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Co-founder Regan Suzuki Pairojmahakij says insects are more than just a gastronomic trend -- they are a potential panacea for an increasingly crowded and meat-hungry world.
The Canadian national used to work in the NGO sector with remote rural communities, many of whom incorporated insects into their cuisine.